A patent attorney has been charged for allegedly operating a five-year fraud scheme with an outside partner to bilk money out of a Chester County company by billing the client for work that was not performed.
Alexander Burke, 58, of Bristol, England, and formerly of Upper Montclair, N.J., was charged by indictment with conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and with substantive wire fraud and money laundering violations.
The indictment alleges that Burke and another attorney engaged in a scheme to defraud a company in Malvern, Pa. that has not been identified in the indictment, by billing the company for legal work not done and splitting the resulting payments from the company.
Burke was a patent attorney for "Company A," and as part of his job he was permitted to hire outside counsel to draft patents, respond to patent office actions, and to write appeals in patent cases, the charges state.
According to the indictment, beginning in the summer of 2008, he and another attorney, an outside patent counsel, agreed that Burke would assign patent-related projects to the attorney, the attorney would do no work on the projects, and the attorney would bill Company A for the work assigned but not done. Burke himself, although he received salary from Company A to do patent work, did the patent work. When the outside attorney billed Company A, Burke approved the invoices for payment. Company A then paid the outside attorney and the outside attorney sent most of the money to Burke.
This fraudulent scheme continued until approximately June of 2013. Over the course of the scheme, Burke allegedly approved invoices from the outside attorney for work not done in the amount of approximately $2,481,020.
Although Company A discovered the scheme and did not pay some of the final invoices, over the five years that Burke continued the scheme Company A paid out approximately $2,417,665 for work billed for, but not done, by the outside counsel in approximately 588 fraudulent invoices.
The indictment further alleges that Burke and the outside counsel conspired to commit money laundering by agreeing to send Burke’s share of the money from the counsel’s account, where Company A had paid it, to Burke’s account at NJM Bank in New Jersey which he had set up in the name of a company called Electrical Services & Networks. These transactions totaled $2,098,977.
Burke further committed 12 acts of money laundering by causing wire transfers from this account to an additional bank account he had set up with another person at a Barclay’s Bank in the Isle of Man in the name of a different company, according to the indictment. The charged transactions to the bank in the Isle of Man totaled $1,318,171.
If convicted the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 340 years imprisonment, $6 million fine or twice the amounts of gross gain and property involved in the counts, whichever is more, restitution, forfeiture, and a $2,300 special assessment.